White Cabinets & Trim Dilemma - What to do now?

jmcrequeApril 29, 2012

First let me say, I have no idea how we didn't anticipate this, as looking back it seems incredibly obvious. All the trim in our house is Behr Polar Bear White. Very crisp, very white. For the kitchen cabinets we were nervous it would be TOO white, too stark, so decided to go with something "warmer". Enter BM White Dove. Samples looked great.

However, looking at it all up a few days later, we are struck by how cream the white dove looks in our kitchen, and how it is exacerbated by the brightness of the polar bear which is right next to it, given the open floor plan.

Firstly (and most noticeably) because of the double pocket doors (leading to the dining room) but also because of the trim of the opening leading into the den. From some angles the cabinets look really dingy in comparison

We're trying to figure out what our options are. Should we:

(1) re-paint the cabinets polar bear white to match all the trim (2) re-paint all doors and trim in the kitchen to match the white dove, so the only area that will clash will be from the den looking into the living room

(3) paint all trim the polar bear white- since the cabinets go to the ceiling, the whites will be right next to each other. I'm worried it will make the cabinets look more dingy but it is the least expensive option.

Appreciate all feedback. We feel like we really mucked this one up.

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I just want to say..what a great example of how not white white dove is...I say paint the trim....love the softer white cabinets with the island.

Your home and kitchen is going to be simply gorgeous.

So sorry about the extra work. Bless your heart

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 7:27PM
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Thanks owataqt. Would you paint the trim and doors white dove? or just paint the trim above the cabinets polar bear white?

I too like the softer, warmer cabinets....except when I look at those polar bear doors in the same frame :(

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 7:41PM
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At the top of your cabinets because their is no break... It already the darker tone. So my advice ...and heck if I go by rules... But what if you pulled the really white all the way across the top trim? And painted the door that stands out so white the color of the cabinets? Me Iam just thinking the quickest fix.
But others who Iam sure know the design rules will chime in.

I hate my bright white door my kitchen... Hate it..it gets so dirty. Just a thought...

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 7:48PM
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Sophie Wheeler

The colors are fine. The problem is where the two meet doesn't look deliberate enough. Problem #1 is it's the exact same profile. If it were different, it would be fine with the white dieing into the cabinet molding. Problem #2 is that there is no "stop" between the two. A molding return, or plinth block would have worked here to make the two distinct. And I apologize, but I can't find the exact right picture to show you exactly what I mean here.

Two different size crown moldings.
Two different ones with a molding return.

See how they did the outcorner on these cabinets with the pillar?

See how they used a pinth here to separate two different runs of molding?

I think there are a couple of solutions here.

You could take the cabinet molding and start a molding return where the filler begins on the tall cabinet. That would give it a more deliberate stop to the eye. That would be my first choice.

You can increase the size of the room molding by adding a piece under it to make it more complex. That would give it a deliberate height and color difference that would read better. This is my second choice for a fix.

You can repaint just the cabinet moulding to carry the white across the cream cabinets. That would work if you were doing an all white kitchen with different shades of white, but won't work with your gray walls. You'd need a different tint of white for the wall, or maybe even a light tan or yellow. This would be my third choice.

Or you could just repaint the room molding to match the cabinets. Of all the solutions, this is the one I like the least as I think that doing that will make the room seem subtly "off" from the rest of the house and visitors won't quite be able to put their finger on why it feels off.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 7:58PM
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I would repaint the trim and the doors that are visible to the kitchen in the white dove color. It will still look really white.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 8:09PM
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I LIKE the contrast between the two whites and so all I would do is paint the crown molding above the cabinets polar bear white. I think the reason why it seems jarring to you is because those are the only colors in the room, but once the floor and backsplash and countertop are in place, the contrasting whites will become part of the whole design. I think it will look very nice!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 8:32PM
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Ok, well mistakes happen. I do agree, however, that something needs to be done. Nothing is irreparable, so the question is what's the right balance between cost and benefit.

First, let me say I really like the White Dove on the cabinets. It's soft and looks great with the wood on your island (which is beautiful), and it coordinates very well (on my computer screen) with the color of your kitchen and den walls (are they the same color?). So if I were in your place, I'd keep the cabinets as they are and paint all the trim, both in the kitchen and in the adjoining rooms, in White Dove, or if that's too dark for you, then in a shade or two lighter but in the same family as White Dove. The problem with whites is they all have different undertones -- yellow, pink, blue, green, etc. -- and you need to coordinate the undertone with all your other colors.

I would also -- if you'll allow me the presumption -- consider refinishing the pocket doors to be the same, or a close match, to the wood finish of your island. That would break up the white everywhere else and provide a contrast with the trim. Of course, your counter top and back splash (if any) will provide contrast in the kitchen area as well. If you don't want the doors to be a wood finish, then you might paint them a shade or two lighter or darker than the White Dove, but in the same family, so they have some contrast with the trim.

What are your other colors in the kitchen, as well as the den and dining room?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 8:36PM
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Thanks for the feedback. We were so confused on this, we sent a note to our architect (who is also a designer but we didn't quite have the budget to hire him through every stage). His response (this is a direct quote): "Hi, I think White Dove is definitely too creamy for your cabinets. The cabinets should match your crown, trim, and doors. I would go ahead and paint the crown above and the cabinets polar bear."

*gulp* Are there rules on matching?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 8:53PM
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I love your White Dove cabinets! And I'm with jerzeegirl -- I like the different whites together, and painting the crown above the cabs would make it look intentional to my eye. Not too matchy-matchy. I've got a finish on my cabinets called "ivory cream", and I'm very much on purpose not matching the trim. It'll be much whiter. I want a soft backsplash in white/cream tones and that'll help pull it all together. Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 9:03PM
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barbaranh - the kitchen and den are the same color SW Repose Grey, the dining room is also grey (although a little greener grey. The backsplash is a deeper grey glass tile. I suppose they are probably a little on the "cooler side". My thought with the white dove, was to avoid the kitchen looking "cold". If that makes any sense.

Honestly I think either white looks fine with the paint colors. Just unfortunately not with each other.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 9:12PM
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You can really see the difference in that second picture. I'd experiment with painting the trim before I even considered repainting the cabinets, especially if you really like the cabinets in White Dove (which I do, btw). I think you have to paint the trim around the top White Dove, because it touches the cabs. (The colors are too similar to look like you meant to do two different colors.) Therefore, I'm thinking you'll have to paint the rest of the trim in that room (including pocket doors) White Dove. I like barbaranh's idea of maybe painting the trim in the room next door, a lighter shade of White Dove, to sort of be a bridge from that room to the rest of the house. I'm hoping a transition of whites might make the difference not so obvious. (It might be fun to give the pocket doors a coordinating color that's totally different than white.) So far, it's looking like a Beautiful space (capital B)!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 9:13PM
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I vote painting the trim above the cabinets Polar Bear-I think it will tie everything in and make the cabinets shine on their own. Instead of thinking of the cabinets as a shade of white, think of "Dove" as being it's own color and such a nice contrast at that.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 9:19PM
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I agree with your architect. However, if re-painting the cabinets is too daunting and expensive, I vote to paint the other doors and trim in White Dove...hmm...except I also think White Dove isn't striking enough with your current wall color. The Polar Bear looks very sharp with the current wall color, so I'm not quite picturing White Dove as a coordinating trim color. If you need to live with it as is, maybe try one of the above ideas to make the different whites look more deliberate.

And yes, mistakes happen. My mother just finished her kitchen remodel, and we didn't realize until after they'd painted all the upstairs trim and doors in BM Mascarpone that it looked yellowish next to her stark white cabinets. Next round of painting, they'll probably pick a whiter white, but for now, she's decided she can live with it. LOL I'm not much help, am I? Only you know what you can live with and how much more time and money you want to invest, though.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 9:24PM
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My immediate thought was to paint the trim the whiter white -- I think they are different enough whites - continue to make it look intentional.

If that doesn't quite do the trick for you, my next thought was to look at the wall color. Perhaps there is a wall color that could be more complimentary to both whites.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 9:26PM
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I don't know if this confuses things more but here is another picture from a different angle.

This is the view from behind the island. The header to the right is the entry to the den. Unfortunately I think it looks worse from this view.

I'm going to try photoshopping some of the options offered to see if it comes up with something we can live with. The painter my GC uses is a bit expensive, so it is definitely weighing into this decision.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 9:43PM
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I vote to repaint the trim & doors on the kitchen side to match the cabinets. While the polar bear white is really crisp on the trim, I think it will be WAAAY too much stark white with the all the perimeter kitchen cabs matching. It's also alot easier to paint the trim, open the pocket doors and take a look at the results. This can be easily be done DIY saving a lot of $$$. Then if you like what you see, you can tackle painting the pocket doors. If you don't like what you see, then consider repainting the cabs.

Just my $0.02.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 10:39PM
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I had a similar issue, except my trim is white dove and my cabinet color is marshmallow, which is a little whiter and doesn't have the grey undertones of white dove. I ending up having the paint store color match the cabinet colors and painted the trim in my kitchen and dining room marshmallow. I left the rest of the trim in the house white dove. The transition in the trim color between rooms is barely noticeable.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 1:10AM
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Jm, I have no experience, knowledge, or know how for any advice, but I can tell you what I would SEE when walking in to your kitchen. It looks well enough defined to me to be a separate room. Most houses nowadays seem to have the "no wood" on the openings between rooms, just sheet-rock or arched doorway without the wood break.
So, to me, it would seem to look better the kitchen all painted the white dove, and would look completely separate and of its own. I don't like the crown above the cabinets painted a different color. Do you like the clean look of the cabinets going to the ceiling? The trim would break off that look and shorten the cabinet look.
Also, the wall color on my monitor reads like it is not helping in the clash of the two whites. All three colors look like a light color in different tones. Kind of gray, yellow, and white.
I LOVE your door trim. When you get this dilemma figured out, I would love to see how it was done!
Good luck, there's nothing like color drunk. That is what I'm in right now.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 1:44AM
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I ran into the same problem with White Dove when looking at it my kitchen. It looked dingy greenish gray near true whites. And Polar Bear is very white. We used it previously on all the trim in the house and in the hall bathroom, where it still lives. (The only room in the house we didn't touch in the reno...yet.)

I think your best bet is to paint the trim/doors in the kitchen to match the cabs; however, I agree with others that WD doesn't look great with the Repose Gray walls. How about repainting the walls also? That is something DIYable to save money.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 3:07AM
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Thanks for all the feedback! We are getting a couple of options quoted:

  1. paint all the kitchen trim white dove. If we do this I really do agree we need to change the wall color as well. Any color suggestions?

2) repaint the cabs polar bear white. I get queasy just thinking about what that will cost. We're hoping since we just got so much painting done (all exterior brick plus about 50% of the interior walls and trim) that they might give us a break. But we'll see.

While i love the white dove, im leaning towards repainting in polar bear (if the cost can be contained). We're doing cambria Newport countertops, which look a bit "off" (maybe too cool ) with the white dove

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 9:35AM
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We must be living parallel lives! We're experiencing the same dilemma right now. My cabinet maker has offered to repaint everything at a discount, but right now, I'm trying to live with the color difference (and these "whites" were supposedly color-matched the same!) We've decided to paint all the trim above the cabinets to match them, and leave the window trim and adjacent crown mold the whiter white. Hopefully, it will work. Otherwise, I think I maybe doing what you're contemplating--repainting the cabinets. UGH.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 10:44AM
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Here's a link to a kitchen with White Dove cabinets, very white tile behind the range, and marble countertops, which are a greyish white with other shades of gray (like your Cambria Newport?)


It's gorgeous. All the trim, plus the ceiling, are White Dove. The grayish-white counter and white tile offset the rest, and the floors provide contrast. What are your floors, BTW?

Have you seen your countertop color and cabinet color together in the same room in daylight? Also, here's a thread about White Dove, with pics.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 12:05PM
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The cabinet color is beautiful. The color looks really nice with the stained dark pieces. I do not think the two whites look like a mistake. My kitchen has two different whites and it was done by an interior designer. My trim is whiter than my cabinets.

If you must paint the trim, then that's what I would do but I would not paint those beautiful cabinets.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 12:38PM
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Dear Jmcreque, were you able to resolve this issue? What did you decide to do can you please share photographs of your kitchen.

We are in the same situation and I came across this.

Thanks a lot

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 10:48PM
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Lovely kitchen! We have the same issue in our current kitch. We used a plinth block to separate the trim in the meet up corner and it looks fine. This seems glaring now only because nothing else is in the kitchen. Counters and BS will tie it all together.
I would consider first painting the trim WD in the kitch only, this keeps costs down, and staining the doors to match the island. In fact if it were my kitchen I'd do that anyway. Those big white doors distract from your really beauiful cabinetry. Are the doors to be closed most often? Then this is also a non issue.
I disagree with your architect/designer, sometimes everything too matchy-matchy just doesnt do well.
All that leads me to: is the WD the best color for this kitchen given the light in the room. Window light, lighting isnt in yet? and time of day all play into color.
Your finished room will look quite different with all the colors involved plus accessories.
I certainly wouldnt pay thousands extra to change out the cabinet color at this stage. YMMV

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 9:24AM
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everything in the kitchen dove white. Keep the polar bear for the other rooms.

I can sort of visualize that as being the most pleasant, short of repainting everything.

The trims are both white, so it's only a big visual difference when they're close together. By keeping them in separate rooms, i think you minimize the contrast. There will still be a small contrast, but I bet you will stop noticing it after you're settled in.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 9:51AM
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I agree with pawa - white dove in kitchen, polar bear everywhere else.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 11:16AM
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I totally agree with Hollysprings. I think the colors will be fine once you've given the molding over the cabinets someplace to die into. Truthfully, I think it would look awful if you painted the trim above the cabinets Polar Bear. I love the continuity of having all the trim in the house the same color. If you do what Hollysprings suggests, I think the two whites you have will just fine together once the kitchen is done and filled with your things and you have something else to look at.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 1:05PM
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Hi jmcreque,
I was really hoping to read a follow up from you as I may be going through the same thing you did. We have white (I think it's Dunn Edwards Swiss Coffee) for our molding and plantation shutters in the kitchen. We have been told by a few people to do our cabinets a creamier white....but I'm now scared that perhaps that isn't the right thing to do. :-/ Any follow up and pictures from you would be greatly appreciated! Thanks! :-)

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 1:21AM
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Hi there, coming in late in this thread. Getting close to a kitchen/family room remodel and here is our problem - cabinets are BM white dove, and I selected that for the ceiling and trim. BUT, once the paint went on the trim, where the door trim is close to the cabinets, there is a huge difference in the whites. The painters stopped working today, and I actually thought that the white they were using was mixed wrong. After reading posts, I now think that BM White Dove is much more creamy than the swatches I have. So, I think we are going to leave the ceiling color as is (kitchen, family room, dining room and living room and hallway ceilings were just painted), and repaint the trim by using a sample of the cabinet for color, instead of going by just the name. The cabinets also have a clear coat over the paint, so I don't know if that is the reason, but the same color paint on the cabinets and trim look very different.

Any other suggestions, I'd be grateful for.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 5:11PM
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